Life is Strange: True Colors has saved me extra emotionally invested than any Life is Strange story since I performed the unique again in 2015. While each sport on this journey collection is good in its personal method, this one (from developer Deck Nine versus the collection’ creators at Dontnod) addresses many constant points which have plagued the final three video games. It proves to be the perfect within the collection due to constant writing for each predominant and facet characters, a compelling thriller story with good pacing, helpful supernatural skills, and maybe most significantly, dialogue decisions that provide extra depth and complexity with huge and most small selections that truly influence the story in significant methods all through the course of 5 chapters.
While you possibly can actually play every chapter in bits and items, they’re all out there instantly so you possibly can binge its 14 hours of story in a single sitting with no ready. Every episode has good pacing, a transparent purpose, and loads of suspense. Before scripting this evaluation, I performed via True Colors a number of occasions and located no definitive solution to expertise the story. There’s a notable distinction from earlier episodes in that there is no recap of the earlier chapter when beginning a brand new one or a teaser for the subsequent after finishing one, however in its protection, True Colors does not likely want it.
Screens – Life is Strange: True Colors
You play as Alex Chen, a younger lady with a troubled childhood who involves the fictional mining city of Haven Springs, Colorado to stay along with her brother Gabe. After a mysterious accident, Alex makes use of her supernatural empathic skills to deliver the city’s secrets and techniques to the floor. Personally, I want that the trailers hadn’t spoiled the character of the central thriller for me, so in the event you haven’t watched them but, don’t – I urge you to go in blind.
Haven Springs is gorgeous due to its scenic Colorado views. From the snowy mountains within the far background to the wood bridge that separates the bus cease from the primary avenue crammed with colourful flowers and a river stream, this is arguably the perfect setting in any Life is Strange sport so far and a compelling and efficient tourism advert for Colorado.
This is a small mountain town, and in typical small-town fashion, everyone knows their neighbors and their community is tight-knit. It comes across loud and clear that the residents genuinely care about each other. Some of this insight comes from Alex’s phone, which shares details of her relationships with her friends with some text messages (the content of which varies depending on your in-game choices). Alex can also check out MyBlock, a Nextdoor-like social media platform where the townsfolk share local updates, Easter eggs, and local banter; some of which are pay-offs as a result of the choices Alex made around those characters. There’s even a moment in which the entire town partakes in a LARP to cheer up a grieving kid. Seeing the townsfolk dress up in costumes in areas like the town’s bar was by far my favorite moment of the entire story. There’s even a light RPG element in that particular chapter that helps make the entire section a lot more fun to engage in.
The people of Haven Springs also have a lot of life to them, which made me feel more emotionally invested in the community. Previous Life is Strange games have struggled with consistently giving NPCs compelling backstories and many of them were failed by poor writing. Alyssa Anderson in the original Life is Strange, Evan Harris in Before the Storm, Hank Stamper in the first episode of Life is Strange 2 all had a lack of depth that made them come off as stereotypes. But in True Colors, I can’t name anybody who felt underserved.
A lot of that comes from the excellent way in which you interact with them, which is enhanced by a supernatural phenomenon. Like Max Caufield in the original Life is Strange, Alex has an unexplained superpower: she can perceive strong emotions through colorful auras that outline people around her. It may not be as spectacular as turning back time, but it does go beyond just “reading” folks: if an individual’s emotions are sturdy sufficient, Alex may also start to truly really feel these feelings herself. It’s virtually like an out-of-body expertise the place she walks a mile of their footwear.
In some instances, each scripted and unscripted, Alex can work together with gadgets that comprise reminiscences (mainly audio logs) that share a bit extra about sure characters. I discovered this to be a pleasant add-on to Alex’s already sturdy empathic powers; not solely can it assist with dialogue decisions huge and small, it helps so as to add extra perspective to Haven Springs’ residents. In one occasion after exploring the flower store, I discovered a t-shirt reminiscence that defined how Riley Lethe met her on-and-off-again boyfriend Mac Louden at a bot-fighting competitors she participated in. And in the event you determine to go off the crushed path, you can be rewarded with a further backstory for sure characters that Alex will write in her journal. Her journal feels very very like her and affords perception into the character you’re taking part in as – typically she is going to write new lyrics or share intensive element on when she engages in one other’s sturdy feelings; you possibly can even playback the non-obligatory reminiscences you discover.
One of my favourite points of Deck Nine’s dealing with of Life is Strange’s story-driven format is that, in contrast to earlier video games on this collection, there are such a lot of decisions – no matter measurement – that influence Alex’s journey and future. One instance of True Colors maintains all through the story entails a facet plot with Eleanor Lethe who early on within the sport you discover out she is having well being points, specifically, she is affected by reminiscence loss. But nobody on the town, not even Riley, who sees Eleanor is a fabric determine is aware of of her sickness. At one level late within the story simply as Riley is about to depart for faculty, you possibly can inform her about Eleanor’s situation, however having earlier conversations with each will go away you with the selection of whether or not to be sincere and inform Riley the reality and danger violating Eleanor’s belief or preserve the key and permit Riley to go away to highschool. Those penalties and reactions really feel actual and constant due to the detailed facial animations and applicable physique language of NPCs. Sure, a few of these reactions are emphasised and spelled out when an aura seems, however even with out the aura I at all times had a great understanding of how a personality was feeling after Alex interacted with them.
Because of the increased emphasis on the consequences of our actions, there were many times when I made a choice and had to second-guess whether that was what I wanted to do. No other Life is Strange game has made me reload a checkpoint save just to see a cutscene play out differently. There were times in previous games when I felt the writers would have dialogue options, you could have multiple options for a dialogue choice that is consistent with the overall protagonist, but another option felt “forced” or misplaced. But Deck Nine’s very good writing affords a number of dialogue choices that each one really feel like one thing Alex would say and stay constant along with her character.
By the time you get to Chapter 5, the results of a lot of the decisions you’ve made will play out in a method or one other. It was a stunning shock to see simply what number of selections I made in earlier episodes metamorphosed into my very own personal-feeling model of Chapter 5. Life is Strange has at all times been a collection with excessive replayability, however this degree of element and variation in scenes makes True Colors much more rewarding for me to replay repeatedly.
Like the earlier installments, Life is Strange: True Colors has a number of endings that may outcome from the alternatives you make, none of which is a canonically “true ending.” While I initially thought I had a good suggestion of how the story would go, Deck Nine managed to maintain me guessing – and by the point the plot twist got here I used to be left in disbelief, desperate to see how the ultimate elements would play out. Yet every ending – and their variations – all felt pure to Alex, and he or she remained true to the character of somebody who is joyful and eager for the long run that lay forward.
I additionally beloved that even when Alex solves the primary thriller, there are nonetheless loads of secrets and techniques for her to find round Haven Springs. The seeds of those facet tales are planted via intelligent foreshadowing and hints for the curious amongst us, and their revelations at all times felt rewarding to me. There are even non-obligatory tales that occur in every episode the place Alex can use her skills to assist folks, resembling serving to a person guess what number of jelly beans are in a jar so he can win the $100 present card to take his mother out to a pleasant meal, boosting a runner’s vanity, or serving to pair up a few buddies with a mutual attraction to 1 one other however had been too scared to make a transfer. Even among the many core forged of characters, in my first few playthroughs, there was at all times one thing new I might study them that allowed me the chance to kind a greater bond with them.
Deck Nine additionally far outshines Dontnod within the romance division, with two sturdy choices that Alex can pursue in Ryan and Steph. In earlier Life is Strange video games, particularly Dontnod’s (Life is Strange 1 & 2), you had the choice to romance both a male or feminine character and select the protagonist’s sexuality, however I discovered these video games to have lackluster choices. Yes, that call is a small piece of a a lot bigger puzzle, however after I look again at them, Dontod’s poor writing at all times provided a powerful bias in direction of one potential associate over the opposite.
By comparability, Deck Nine affords an equal taking part in area to each Ryan and Steph, and after I performed the primary 4 chapters for the primary time I used to be uncertain who I wished Alex to be with – or whether or not to decide on one among them in any respect because you’re given the power to opt-out of romance altogether. Both characters have their execs and cons and it’s fairly clear Deck Nine is putting the ball in your court docket, and neither seems like they’re getting the brief finish of the stick.